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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Having enjoyed and learned a lot from retail expert Paco Underhill's previous two books, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping--Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond and Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping by the Author of Why We Buy, I was pleased to see he has another book out. Despite the cringe-worthy title, I wanted to give Underhill the benefit of a doubt. In What Women Want: The Global Marketplace Turns Female-Friendly, he makes the observation that women do a lot of shopping and not just for clothes and food. They have a say in big ticket items like cars and houses and appliances. Many women are not even married, they work for a living, and buy their own houses, cars, and appliances. Hear me roar.

It's a sure bet that Underhill didn't write this book for women at all. He uses awkward phrasing, making it sound as if he's reporting anthropological findings about a colony of exotic specimens with quaint shopping habits. He shies away from the word "woman" most of the time, opting for "female" and "female of the species."

His major finding is that women like things clean. Clean stores, clean hotel rooms, clean restrooms. Here's a flash for you retailers out there - men like things clean too.

There are some useful nuggets in the book, if you're willing to wade through frequent speculations that women like curvy surfaces as opposed to more manly straight edges. For instance, in the chapter about hotels, Underhill notes that women are more concerned with security than men are. That means that a woman may not appreciate it when the clerk at the reception desk calls her by name several times as she checks in, so that everyone in the lobby knows her name. Good advice.

Unfortunately, you have to put up with a lot of generalizations and spurious factoids, such as "In general, females find it much easier to orient their way around if they can look at a 3D map." Here's a mysterious observation on parking lots in the Netherlands where - "Perhaps because of biological imperatives ... females are more comfortable positioning themselves - and their small cars - over something rather than within two defined lines. Men, owing to their own biology ... are more at ease navigating their vehicles in between a target."

I'd like to think that Underhill did actual research to come up with his advice, maybe some surveys and questionnaires, gathering statistics and such, but if he did, he doesn't mention it. We just have to take his word for it that "Reading ... has always been a more traditionally female passion than a male one. It's sedentary, meditative, personal. It's passive (I mean that as a compliment)..."

To be fair, Underhill makes generalizations about men too, as if men don't care if their hotel room or store restroom is clean, or that men are only about specs and power and don't care at all about convenience and comfort. Most of the improvements Underhill suggests would be as appreciated by men as they would be by women. Clear instructions, thermostat controls in hotel rooms, clothes that fit, who doesn't want those?
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I love Paco's work. I'm a Paco fan. His company and insights are remarkable. This book, however, is far from insightful...except for his observations related to Best Buy.

I preordered the book and waited in expectation for the day it arrived. I kept reading page after page wishing a golden gem would appear. "Why We Buy" is a great book with solid research that support his findings. This is a wandering, unorganized, pointless collection of thoughts that would be concluded by anyone who spends a day with their wife or close female friend.

Paco's and Envirosell's work deserves a better representation than this random collection of thoughts...

My wife, knowing that I'm a huge Paco fan, read the book before I could get to it. It took her less than a casual day's reading and she concluded that the introduction is more valuable than the actual content.

Women want: 1)cleanliness, 2)control, 3)safety, 4)you to be considerate...Now, stop there. The essence of the book has now been shared. Avoid the wandering remainder of the book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Paco Underhill is a retail anthropologist. He studies, for example, traffic patterns inside grocery stories. He's the kind of guy who's responsible for why milk is at the back of the store, what appears on the end caps of each aisle, why some cereal goes on the bottom shelf and some on the top ... It's fascinating stuff. In fact, two of my favorite books are his previous ones, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping--Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond and Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping by the Author of Why We Buy.

This book has some of that in it. For example, he does well taking us around hotels, electronics stores, casinos, and clothing stores, and all with a special eye to female consumers. For example, ever think of a drug store as the female equivalent of the much more markedly male convenience store? Makes a lot of sense.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book comes nowhere close to these passages, or to his other books. Instead, what we get are rambling musings, with no real data to back them up. These cover areas that aren't suited to his retail approach - houses, kitchens, bathrooms - as well as others that might be - gyms, farmer's markets ...

Now, I would have been fascinated by what his research told us about these topics. And, yes, he's an interesting guy, a great writer, and certainly knows whereof he speaks. But, in the end, it's really mostly just musings.

Actually, the overall impression I got with this effort was that Underhill may have simply been "phoning this one in." The research is lacking, the writing is (though well done) perhaps a little too cute, and some things are repeated over and over (the supposed appeal of cleanliness and curves to women, for example).

So, deadline? Getting bored? Wanting to turn a quick buck? Nearing retirement age? I don't know. All I do know is how excited I was to see another book by him, and how disappointed I was when I turned the last page.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Best selling author, Paco Underhill ("Why We Buy" and "The Call of the Mall") narrows his demographic focus in "What Women Want" to tap into America's most important consumer group: women. While they comprise just over half of the U.S. population, women buy or influence the purchase of eighty-five percent of all products and services sold nationwide.

This is a book not just for marketers but also for executives and business owners. To illustrate, let me share a story from my early days managing a branch manufacturing operation in Fort Lauderdale for American Hospital Supply Corporation (now Baxter Health). My parents would always visit my plant when they visited us from Chicago. The first thing my mother would do would be to inspect the women's room. She held fast to a rule that the women's room of any establishment said a lot about the company and its management. Cleanliness, the availability of feminine hygiene products, and a pleasant atmosphere (colors, sofa, etc.) were at the top of the list. She reasoned that since most managers (1970s) were men, they generally paid short shrift to the needs of the female work force. Those that did had a much more productive and satisfied workforce.

Underhill underscores, among many other factors, the "cleanliness factor" in "What Women Want." Many of us, men, need to attention to the needs of women whether they are in the mall or in our companies. And this book delivers on getting us to think again about what we need to deliver to provide a positive "experience" for all women. "No business can afford to ignore their power and presence." - much like what we find in marriage!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I agree with that you can stop reading this book at the intro... just get a copy at a local book store and stand for 3 minutes... that is how long it will take.... the rest of the book is just boring "fluff"... sorry....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Let me start by saying that I absolutely loved Why We Buy, so compared to that book, I found this one disappointing. What Women Want provides a lot of interesting observation about women's shopping techniques and desires, broken out by categories such as beauty, food, and clothing. I finally, for example, have a better understanding of why my wife and daughters hate the idea of a make over in Nordstrom, which previously i thought was a female thing.

There are certainly a number of interesting observations and thoughts in the book, and it is easy to read, but it lacks the same "Wow" factor of Why We Buy, which came across as much more research based. This book, by contrast, is more anecdotal, and while it contains a number of interesting observations, it just doesn't have nearly the same depth of research or value.

Certainly, the next time I'm in a changing room, department store, or electronics store i will look and think hard about his observations, but I sure would have wished for a lot more, given how many "aha" moments I had from Why We Buy.

Worth reading? Sure, especially if you are involved in the retail sector. But I might go for The X and Y Of Buy instead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I like Paco Underhill's books, and this one is pretty good. But it's not as much prescriptive as it is descriptive.

Time after time while reading this book, I came to the conclusion that, in this worldview, women want to feel as though the world is a certain way but don't care if it really is -- as if there is willing complicity on their part in the deception being carried out by marketers against them. I suppose this is not news to married men.

He has some good points about the feminization of the world around us, and the effect of women on the changing world of retail.

The book is call "What Women Want", but Underhill seems to carefully avoid the word "women" in the book and instead uses "female" consistently ("the female"). The title, though, is pretty accurate: it describes the motivations of women as it pertains to the sale of goods to them. He gives numerous examples of real-world retail decisions that are more likely than not to turn women off a particular retailer.

If you are a man, you reach the end of the (rather short) book having a rough idea of how you might improve your business to better appeal to women, though this idea would be far from thorough.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This Manhattan author sure has pep and enthusiasm. The book is mostly about women--how very imporant they are as income-earners, etc. and customers. Hotels, retailers, etc. miss opportunities (or do stupid things). But this book is written by just another "consultant" who does consumer research (observing women in store aisles, etc.). I'm sure these consultants write up very peppy, intriguing reports, and charge high consulting fees. I hate consultants. This book, for example, assumes that women like curvy features in hotel rooms (and hate sharp angles), love light things (white wine, etc.) but hate dark things--and repeats these over and over again. The book is heavily padded, and poorly edited (proably no editing). I personally suspect it's a bunch of b.s. Snazzy talk to sell expensive consulting. There are probably thousands of other market researchers who have more practical advice. I would trust the advice and observations more if they came from a midwestern author living in a medium-sized city, who has worked for a direct-marketing company (and has other organic research background).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Underhill's first book "Why We Buy" is a MUST read. If you are living in America and breathing, it should be mandatory. But his latest book is a disappointment. First, and most importantly, he devotes no time to women working in the Arts/Entertainment industries. This is more disturbing since Underhill acknowledges, "that the arts ... are still among the least gender-integrated institutions in the world."

Second, most of "What Women Want" reads like the chronicle of a defeated old man in a new world dominated by women. It's like Stockholm syndrome.

Finally, Underhill's writing style is too informal in this book. I don't like that. "Why We Buy" was filled with clever anecdotes, useful statistics, and most important useful tips. Every tip you need about making your business more women friendly Underhill gives you in the first 13 pages.

I sincerely hope a follow up book brings us back to Underhill's roots. The research his company conducts is too valuable to collect and not share.
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on September 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Having read Paco's work I was pleased to read this assortment of views on the marketplace and the adjustments which make sense to accommodate women. There are many important observations he makes regarding the improvements needed in malls and hotels, the thought of a mall with an indoor yard and a train is fantastic, why are we Americans so slow to get into the fun of design? I also really appreciated his chapter on farming and food. It is so inspiring to realize how far we have come, and have to go with our food chain, and the need to provide and protect our resources in order to benefit all species and genders is crucial.

Paco always manages to bring his unique wit into his writing...unique turns of phrase and allusion make for extremely enjoyable reading. The chapter titles encapsulate this humorous point of view: "Housequake" (house design over time), "Let Us Spray" (the evolution of the bathroom!) "We Can Work It Out"(health clubs)"Higher Ground" (regarding farms)Off the Wall (regarding Facebook and social media)...I must say that without being pretentious, it does offer some thought provoking observations and analysis of the market in its natural evolution to supply the demand generated by a wealthier and more influential female clientele.

I had a great time with this, thank you Paco for continuing to challenge and enrich your readers with your unique point of view, unapologetic, and quite right!
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